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Op-Ed: Texas Must Protect Our Grid Against Attack — The Feds Won’t

Editor’s Note: This Op-Ed was written and submitted to Breitbart Texas by Tom Glass. Mr. Glass is a retired security and controls analyst living in Houston, Texas.

Imagine what would happen if the power went off nationwide and did not come back for several years. Water pumps, life-saving equipment in hospitals, gasoline production, and refrigeration of our food and medicines would all stop. A widespread, extended power outage would end life as we know it.

Threats to our power grid include solar flares, a nuclear blast in space creating an Electro-Magnetic Pulse (EMP), cyber-attacks, and portable EMP device or physical attacks on key components of the grid.

The federal government and others have issued multiple reports of the dangers, but so far, the federal government has failed to act. Texas needs to take the lead.  We have our own grid, after all. If we harden our grid first, Texans not only will be protected, but will also have an economic development advantage.  Three Texas legislators are working to protect the Texas grid.

In the Senate, Bob Hall has introduced SB 1398, which has been assigned to the Natural Resources Committee chaired by Senator Troy Fraser. In the House, Tan Parker has introduced HB 2289 and 3552 and Tony Tinderholt has introduced HB 3801. Sen. Hall’s SB 1398 will be heard by the Senate Natural Resources Committee on Tuesday, April 21. One Parker bill has already been heard in the House, and the other is likely to be heard in the House State Affairs Committee soon.

You might wonder why the federal government has not acted to ensure that our grid is protected or why anyone would be opposed to doing so. Advocates of hardening our grid in DC tell us that power companies have lobbied against hardening. They have already started in Texas.  Since the legislation proposes that the taxpayers reimburse the utilities for their hardening expenses, such opposition is mind-boggling. The arguments opponents to hardening offer are are vague, and sound like they are based in denial.

Two main actions are needed by grid owners — hardening the high voltage transformers and the control centers. High voltage transformers are not made in the USA and have lead times of over a year. The military has been hardening its control facilities for decades. In fact, a Texas-based company does this for the military and has already hardened one utility command center in Texas.

Protecting the grid is like purchasing insurance against the threats.  Insurance salespeople have the difficult job of persuading people to think about and prepare for unpleasant realities that most people would rather not contemplate. But mature adults do think about potential problems and prepare for them.  When many politicians just worry about the next election, legislators Hall, Parker, and Tinderholt are to be congratulated for their mature leadership.

Facing up to the unpleasant reality that our grid could go down is not politics-as-usual. These threats to our way of life affect all, regardless of ideology. Let your Texas legislators know what you think about this issue. The family you save could be your own.

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